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Sun

10

Oct

2010

Economics: Doing business as if people mattered
by Robert  Jensen Ph.D.

When politicians talk economics these days, they argue a lot about the budget deficit. That’s crucial to our economic future, but in the contemporary workplace there’s an equally threatening problem -- the democracy deficit.

In an economy dominated by corporations, most people spend their work lives in hierarchical settings in which they have no chance to participate in the decisions that most affect their lives. The typical business structure is, in fact, authoritarian -- owners and managers give orders, and workers follow them. Those in charge would like us to believe that’s the only way to organize an economy, but the cooperative movement has a different vision.

Cooperative businesses that are owned and operated by workers offer an exciting alternative to the top-down organization of most businesses. In a time of crisis, when we desperately need new ways of thinking about how to organize our economic activity, cooperatives deserve more attention.

First, the many successful cooperatives remind us that we ordinary people are quite capable of running our own lives. While we endorse democracy in the political arena, many assume it’s impossible at work. Cooperatives prove that wrong, not only by producing goods and services but by enriching the lives of the workers through a commitment to shared decision-making and responsibility.

Second, cooperatives think not only about profits but about the health of the community and natural world; they’re more socially and ecologically responsible. This is reflected in cooperatives’ concern for the “triple bottom line” -- not only profits, but people and the planet.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Lieberman speaks for all of Israel The dangers of ‘recognition’
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
 
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has insisted from the launch of the current peace talks that the Palestinians set no preconditions, while making his own precondition the centrepiece of negotiations. Netanyahu has said talks are futile unless the Palestinians and their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, first recognise Israel as a Jewish state. “I recognised the Palestinians' right to self-definition, so they must do the same for the Jewish people,” he told American Jewish leaders recently.
 
Netanyahu, of the rightwing Likud party, is not the first Israeli leader to make such a requirement of the Palestinians. His predecessor Tzipi Livni, leader of the centrist opposition, wanted the same recognition. Ehud Barak, the defence minister and head of the supposedly left-wing Labor party, also supports this position.
 
The consensus on this matter, however, masks a reluctance by Israeli politicians to clarify what exactly is being expected of the Palestinians and why recognition is so important.
 
Netanyahu clearly does not simply want the fact of Israel's existence acknowledged. That is in no doubt and, anyway, the Israeli state has been recognised by the Palestinian leadership since the late 1980s. It is recognition of the state's Jewishness, not its existence, that matters.
 
Debate on this subject focuses on Israel's desire to stifle the threat of a right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees. Though doubtless a consideration, that explanation hardly suffices. It is clear to everyone that the refugees are one of the main issues to be settled in the negotiations. In the unlikely circumstances that all other obstacles to Palestinian statehood were removed, it can be assumed that the international community would work to make that particular mountain a molehill.
 
The demand for recognition is directed chiefly at another party: the fifth of Israel's population who are Palestinian – the remnants of the Palestinian people who stayed on their land during the great dispossession of 1948, the nakba, and eventually gained Israeli citizenship.
 
They are only nominally represented at the talks by their state, Israel. Instead, Netanyahu hopes to use the promise of statehood to induce Abbas to sacrifice the interests of Israel's Palestinian citizens. The Palestinian minority's leaders, who have been lobbying Abbas hard in the run-up to the talks, understand what Netanyahu's demand for recognition entails.
 
During the early years of the Oslo peace process, when a concession on Palestinian statehood appeared to be drawing nearer, the positions of Israel's Palestinian and Jewish leaders polarised. The assumption of Israeli politicians was that Palestinian citizens would soon either declare loyalty to a Jewish state – effectively become Zionists – or be "transferred" to the coming Palestinian state.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Al-Qaeda’s Suspect Humanitarianism Is bin Laden’s concern for flood victims a ruse to destabilise Pakistan?
by Maidhc Ó Cathail in Japan
We seek him here, we seek him there,

Those Yankees seek him everywhere.

Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?

That damned, elusive bin Laden

If we are to believe the Associated Press, that demmed elusive Osama bin Laden has spoken again.

According to the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization, the fugitive al-Qaeda leader, who some intelligence experts believe has been dead since December 2001, has just released an audiotape in which he calls for the creation of a new relief body to help Muslims affected by this summer’s devastating floods in Pakistan. Bin Laden, AP suggests, is “seeking to exploit discontent … by depicting the region’s governments as uncaring.”

Seemingly unfazed by news of the CIA’s 3,000-strong Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams hot on its trail, al-Qaeda has, in recent weeks, according to the AP report, put out three messages, including the one featuring bin Laden, concerning the massive floods that affected around 20 million people in Pakistan, “signaling a concentrated campaign by the terror group to tap into anger over the flooding to rally support.”

AP’s sole source for the 11-minute tape, with the oddly contemplative title “Reflections on the Method of Relief Work,” is SITE Intelligence Group. The U.S.-based group, which purportedly “monitors jihadi forums,” provided AP with a copy of the message that it claims was posted on unnamed “Islamic militant websites.”

There are questions, however, about whether SITE Intelligence is the most objective source of information about terrorism.

SITE co-founder Rita Katz, an Israeli Defense Forces veteran, is an Iraqi-born Jew, whose father was publicly hanged in Iraq after the 1967 Six-Day War as an Israeli spy. Considering Tel Aviv’s obvious interest in having the world’s only superpower fight a “global war on terror” against the Jewish state’s Muslim neighbours, it somehow never occurred to Associated Press, or other mainstream media outlets, to ask the question, Like father, like daughter?

Moreover, there are reasonable grounds for suspicion aboutal-Qaeda’s other pronouncements on the floods in Pakistan.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

U.S. Economic, Political and Military Expansion in Asia-Pacific Region
by Dana Gabriel

The U.S. is stepping up efforts to gain more influence in Asia-Pacific through participation in more regional institutions and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. U.S. foreign policy seeks to shape the future of the region in an attempt to dominate economic, political and security issues.

There are concerns over the rise of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific by U.S. competitors that could greatly affect its interests. The TPP is seen by many as a key component of America’s trade strategy for further engagement in the region. A U.S. government fact sheet describes the TPP as a, “potential platform for economic integration across the Asia Pacific region. The United States will engage with an initial group of seven like-minded countries, Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam, to craft a platform for a high-standard, comprehensive agreement - one that reflects U.S. priorities and values - with these and additional Asia-Pacific partners.” The TPP is open to other countries with Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines, among some of the nations that have shown interest in joining. It has been suggested that the U.S. may want the current eight partnership countries to reach an initial high-quality agreement before bringing others into the pact. In an effort to play a more dominant role, the TPP could be a means to address long-standing U.S. economic interests in Asia and be used to counter increasing Chinese trade in the region. 

In his article Obama Pledges U.S. Entry Into Pacific Trade Deal, Jim Capo characterized the true nature of the TPP and just how it relates to a world government system. He concluded that, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is the sister agreement to the Trans-Atlantic Agenda. Together with NAFTA and the North American Leaders Summit (new name for the discredited SPP), these deals are building blocks for an integrated system of global governance managed by Western financial interests and their collaborators around the world.” Some remain hopeful that the TPP will be the beginning of a new U.S. trade model, but there are fears that it could be another NAFTA. A recent open letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk signed by a number of activist groups is asking that any negotiated TPP restrict intellectual property provisions. In addition, they are urging that accession or adherence to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) not be a requirement of the deal. If things are to change, the TPP will also need to include strong environmental and labour protections and exclude harmful NAFTA invest-to-state lawsuit provisions, as well as financial service deregulation.

In June, the second round of negotiations for the TPP were held in San Francisco. Significant progress was made as discussions examined goals for improving and expanding the partnership. This includes clarifying, “the relationship between existing FTAs and the TPP by agreeing member economies would continue current FTA requirements while adhering to any higher TPP standards. That determination lays the foundation for how TPP economies will precede in future negotiations.” Working groups also addressed a wide range of topics such as agricultural products, business mobility, cross-border services, intellectual property protection, financial services and technical barriers to trade, along with other issues. The next round of talks are scheduled to take place from October 4-9 in Brunei. Since the Obama administration recommitted to the TPP last year, negotiations have gained momentum and an agreement could be signed in 2012. Although the TPP is not technically part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), it is seen as the potential foundation for creating one of its goals of a region-wide free trade area.

In November 2011, APEC leaders will gather in Hawaii where the U.S. could plot a bolder vision for the forum. According to a Statement by the Press Secretary, “The United States will use the opportunity of chairing APEC in 2011 to highlight the vast potential the Asia-Pacific region holds for American companies and workers, to help shape the future of Asia-Pacific's regional architecture, and to promote APEC's core mission of spurring mutually beneficial regional economic integration.” This year’s APEC Leaders summit will take place in Yokohama, Japan this November. The Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade which was held several months back, commended the work that had been undertaken in key areas of regional economic integration. This includes sectors such as standards and technical regulations, investment, trade facilitation, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, as well as environmental goods and services. They also welcomed progress made to explore possible pathways to achieve a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

Earlier this year, Kurt M. Campbell Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs made it clear that the U.S. seeks to play a more prominent role in the region. In a Statement on Regional Overview of East Asia and the Pacific he emphasized, “In every regard - geopolitically, militarily, diplomatically, and economically - Asia and the Pacific are indispensable to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century. As the Asia-Pacific century emerges, defining the new international environment, the United States must enhance and deepen its strategic engagement and leadership role in the region.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent Remarks on U.S. Foreign Policy before the Council on Foreign Relations also lays out America’s strategy. She stated, “the Asia-Pacific currently has few robust institutions to foster effective cooperation and reduce the friction of competition, so we began building a more coherent regional architecture with the United States deeply involved.” Clinton also added, “the Asia-Pacific region will grow in importance and developing these institutions will establish habits of cooperation that will be vital to stability and prosperity.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become one of the main vehicles for integration in the region. In a Statement By President Obama at the Opening Of the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting which took place in New York on September 24, he acknowledged that, “Through APEC and initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we’re pursuing trade relationships that benefit all our countries. And we will continue to support ASEAN’s goal of creating a more effective and integrated community by 2015.” He went on to say, “We’ll also focus on deepening our political and security cooperation.” ASEAN has become a dominant group and is poised to play a crucial role in the vision for an Asia-Pacific Union. Further engagement in regards to evolving regional architecture is really the struggle for more influence. Gaining more control in Asia-Pacific is important from a geopolitical, economic and military standpoint. As it continues to grow, the U.S. seeks to play an active role in shaping the region.

During a trip to Asia last year, Obama proclaimed himself to be America's first Pacific President and noted the importance of, "multilateral organizations (that) can advance the security and prosperity of this region." He also asserted, “As an Asia Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region, and to participate fully in appropriate organizations as they are established and evolve." American economic, political and military expansion in Asia-Pacific is being used to counter growing Chinese influence. The U.S. continues to strengthen old alliances and forge new partnerships. Through various joint security exercises, it has increased its military presence in the area. With the U.S. and China vying for more control, this could further escalate tensions and lead to a potential confrontation between the two powers.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, as well as other issues. Contact: beyourownleader@hotmail.com. Visit his blog site at beyourownleader.blogspot.com
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

The cost of telling the truth in the United States
by Koroush Ziabari in Iran

"Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company. We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well." This frosty statement was the conclusion of Rick Sanchez's 6-year-long career with the United States' cable news network, CNN.

The award-winning Sanchez who had served in CNN's Spanish service and covered the September 11 attacks for the network was fired on October 1 after granting an interview to the Sirius XM's radio show "Stand Up With Pete Dominick" in which he implied that the Jews are dominating the mass media in the United States and just pretend to be a downtrodden, subjugated minority.

Sanchez criticized CNN's Jewish "Daily Show" comedian Jon Stewart for directing offensive jokes at him in his nightly programs and called him a "bigot".  Answering a statement by Pete Dominick that Stewart belonged to a Jewish minority, Sanchez said: "Yeah, very powerless people. [laughs] He's such a minority. I mean, you know, please. What—are you kidding? I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart. And to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?"

The skirmish between the two renowned media personalities became public when Stewart scoffed at Sanchez who had said in his "Rick's List" show that he had received a Tweeter message from the House Republican leader John Boehner. Stewart called it a case of "send a twit a tweet". Sanchez responded by telling Pete Dominick that Stewart couldn't tolerate the media achievements of somebody who is of an ethnic minority: "He's upset that someone of my ilk is almost at his level."

Rick Sanchez explained that he grew up in a poor family whose members, including his father and mother, were subject to prejudice and oppression due to their Hispanic ethnicity. He complained that someone with a sumptuous background such as Jon Stewart can't relate to what he has experienced during his life.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

The Bigot-Whisperers of the Right
by Phil Rockstroh

I was born, at slightly past the midpoint of the Twentieth Century, in the Deep South city of Birmingham, Alabama -- “The Heart of Dixie.” My earliest memories are of a time of societal upheaval and cultural trauma. At the time, as the world witnessed and history chronicles, Birmingham could be an ugly, mean place.
My father, employed at the time as a freelance photojournalist, would arrive home from work, his clothes redolent of tear gas, his adrenal system locked in overdrive, his mind reeling, trying to make sense of the brutality he witnessed, perpetrated by both city officials and ordinary citizens, transpiring on the streets of the city.

The print and media images transmitted from Birmingham shocked and baffled the nation as well. But there was a hidden calculus underpinning the architecture of institutionalized hatred of the Jim Crow South. The viciousness of Birmingham’s white underclass served the purpose of the ruling order. The city was controlled, in de facto colonial manner, by coal and steel barons whose seat of power was located up the Appalachian mountain chain in Pittsburgh, PA. The locals dubbed them the Big Mules. They resided in the lofty air up on Red Mountain; most everyone else dwelled down in the industrial smog.

These social and economic inequities, perpetuated by exploitive labor practices, roiled Birmingham’s white men with resentment. If they asked for higher wages, they were told: “I can hire any n*gg*r off the street for half of what I pay you.” In the colonial model, all the big dollars flowed back to Pennsylvania, and economic rivalry and state-codified delusions of racial entitlement, vis-à-vis Jim Crow Laws, was used to insure the working class white majority rage at the ruling elite remained displaced -- their animus fixed on those with even less power and economic security than themselves. This was the poisoned cultural milieu, wherein George Wallace’s “segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever” demagogic dirt kicking caused the embedded rage of the white working class to pour forth like fire ants from a trampled bed.

In a similar manner, manufactured controversies such as the gay marriage and gays in the military dust-ups of the present time have little to do with gays or marriage or the military. These issues are served as red meat to arouse the passions -- and loosen the purse strings -- of the fear-driven, status quo-enabling, confused souls residing at the center of the black spleen of the Republican ideological base.

Although, as a rule, the right’s lies and displacements are most effective when liberals offer working people only bromides, platitudes, and lectures on propriety and good taste. Obama and the Democrats, time and time again, present demagogues with an opening the size of the cracks in Glen Beck’s gray matter. Hence, the bigot-whisperers of the right are provided with a void that they can seed with false narratives; wherein, they are given free reign to cloud the air and clog the airwaves with palaver about fifth columnist threats from terrorist-toady mosque builders and gays in uniform undermining moral in the ranks by belting out show tunes in foxholes and impromptu shower stall instruction on the art of hand to hand sodomy.

Cultures are organic in nature. Combine the elements of the scorched earth policies of neoliberal capitalism, its austerity cuts and downsizing, plus the hybrid seeds of the consumer age -- and what alien foliage will rise from the degraded soil -- fields of right-wing AstroTurf. Add: industrial strength fertilizer. And see how our garden grows, with: Glen Beck and Sarah Palin -- the mutant seed sprouted Chia Pets of corporate oligarchy.

Yet the idea of Beck and Palin leading a populist, pitchforks and torches style uprising in the US is sheer fantasy. Most Americans wouldn’t rally en mass unless they could bring their couches with them. It would look like The Prague Spring but held in a Rooms to Go showroom.

The recent demonstrations, in Washington, DC, attended by the ranks of the chronically discontent right, are about as populist as a vintage Soviet-era May Day parade was a celebration of the proletarian masses.

By the informal design of our present oligarchs and the self-referential nature of the corporate owned media, US citizens have the right to say almost anything that is on their minds, as long as it has little to no effect on the status quo. If there was ever a mass movement that effectively challenged the nation’s massive class inequity and threatened to reign in the excesses of the National Security State, it would be shut down faster than an open air, live sex show in the middle of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Moreover, the mid-life snit-fest engendered by the fading political power of the country’s white, middle class majority, as was the case with the racial resentment of the white underclass of my native Birmingham, serves the agenda of the moneyed elite. And its goals (which its rank and file seem ill-equipped to define, i.e., vague resentments and inarticulate rage, hardly constitutes an agenda for societal transformation and governmental reform) are equally as self-defeating in their ramifications for debt-beleaguered, economic security-bereft working people as were the racist displacement of rage embraced and perpetuated by the exploited, working class, white majority of the Jim Crow south. Working and middle class Republicans agitating for lower taxes for the wealthy is as silly as gaunt peasants, clutching torches and welding pitchforks, besieging Louis XVI’s palace at Versailles, demanding their bread rations be cut so that the royal court could enjoy larger and more lavish feasts.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

‘Dying to Win’: Newt Gingrich’s ‘Terrorism’
by Ramzy Baroud

On September 30, within the time frame of a few hours, an accused man reportedly confessed to terrorism charges in Germany, the terrorism threat level was raised in Sweden, and former US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lengthily discussed ‘suicidal jihadists’ in a speech he made in Denver.

Although it was tacitly understood that US president Barack Obama has distanced himself from his predecessor’s indefinite war objectives – embodied in the ill-defined ‘war on terror’ -  the chances are the dreadful term ‘terrorism’ is not going not leave us alone anytime soon.

Regardless of its alleged French roots – dating back to the French revolution of the late 18th century – ‘terrorism’ is very much a political term and very much a recent one. US officials, especially those vying for political office, are very generous in their use of this word. But others - from the most authoritarian, dictatorial regimes to Scandinavian democracies - have also developed a special affinity to it. Evoking a threat of terrorism is a very clever way to achieve political galvanization, as it creates a sharp and unmistakable delineation between us – the human, civilized and ‘democratic’ – and the inhuman and barbaric others. When the term ‘terrorism’ is unleashed, there are no half positions, no middle grounds, no grey areas.

Thus, Gingrich could not have formulated a better entrance to the foreign policy debate than to position himself as America’s savior - not only from the terrorists, whoever they are, and wherever they are - but also from America’s incompetent leadership since the attacks of September 11, 2001. According to Gingrich, George W. Bush should have replaced all of his government’s security apparatus following the dreadful attacks, and Barack Obama should have done the same following the bomb scare over Detroit in late 2009.

The rightwing politician also conveniently linked Iran to terrorism, coined new terminologies, fondly recalled the ‘peaceful’ defeat of communism, derided everyone who doesn’t agree with him, and continued to refuse to disclose whether he is planning to run for office in 2012.

Americans have been long familiar with Gingrich’s emblematic rants. But they are also afraid of terrorism. They have been told that terrorism is anything but a political coinage and endeavor; in fact it is ultimately about a bomb and two wires, one green and one red. Every aspiring politician poses as the one who knows exactly which wire to cut. Gingrich moulds the threat in any way he finds politically useful. Then he exaggerates the concocted threat and promises to cut the right wire in order to increase his chances at elections.

All of this is fear-mongering at its best. It’s unlikely that Gingrich is actually interested in bringing the terrorist threat to an end. What truly inspires his politicking is the fact that he can sustain his intolerant, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, pro-war and exclusivist American agenda using one simple, yet loaded phrase: ‘terrorism’.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Canada's War on Islam: The Case of Mahboob and Momin Khawaja
by Stephen Lendman
 

Canada, like other Western countries and Israel, is partnered in America's War on Islam - a post-9/11 "war on terror" scheme to vilify Muslims as culturally inferior gun-toting terrorists for political advantage. As a result, thousands of innocent victims have been lawlessly persecuted, bogusly charged, imprisoned, tortured, and in some cases extrajudicially murdered in cold blood.

Two previous articles, among many others, explained what all Muslims face, accessed through the following links:

Mahboob Khawaja, his son Momin and family, are Pakistani Canadians, bogusly targeted for alleged involvement in terrorism.

Dr. Khawaja is an "academic specializing in Strategic Studies with special interests in Western-Islamic Civilizations, Change and Conflict Resolution." His books include "Muslims and the West: Quest for Change and Conflict Resolution," as well as many published articles, his latest titled "Fallacy of the 'War on Terrorism.' " Accurately described as a "self-defeating," inhumane, "cynical framework of greed and tyranny," it shamelessly perceives Muslims "as the culprits waging war against the Christian West." 

In fact, the opposite is true. It's been longstanding, then intensified post-9/11 globally, claiming millions of innocent victims, thousands as political prisoners, Canada as culpable as America.

Mahboob explained how he and his family were persecuted, saying:

"It was a combined (American/Canadian/UK) project, my wife and children arrested at gunpoint in Ottawa while I was working in a university in Saudi Arabia. My family home was attacked by 50 - 60 armed (Royal Canadian Mounted Police - RCMP) without any formal search warrant, looking for a bomb," but found nothing. 

In fact, Mahboob's door was blown open. Masked RCMP burst in, telling his family to get down on the floor, then asking "Is your house booby-trapped? Where are the explosives?" Of course, there were none nor any booby or other traps.

"Simultaneously, I was arrested in Arabia and jailed for two weeks. The Saudi Intelligence showed me the formal Canadian request, but (Security) Minister (Anne McClellan) and the Government in Ottawa denied" sending it. "The documentary evidence," however, refutes "this public lying." No matter. The damage was done. Canadian and global media reports destroyed his "professional career as a professor in global politics," as well as his son, Momin's, as a software developer.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Loud Talk, Small Minds
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

In trying to understand how so many Americans adore people like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh I have come to this critical understanding: Poorly educated, terribly informed, intellectually deficient and downright stupid people need idols.  They feel angry, frustrated, ignored, cheated and disillusioned by so much going on in American society.  They find the emotional, political and philosophical rants by talk show, loud mouth celebrities matching and justifying their feelings.  Of course, those celebrities work hard to fan the flames of all that unhappiness and discontent, and also perpetuate ignorance and hate.  They sell stupidity to gullible dummies, teaching them who to blame for their misery.

I am no conservative or liberal and I know I sound terribly condescending and will be viewed as an elitist by those dummies, not that they read much by those they do not idolize.  However, I have spent considerable time following what these demon idols say and write to seriously investigate whether I might be missing something of value.  But all I see are huge quantities of totally incorrect and distorted information, absolute nonsense, outright insanity, abuse of logic, exaggerations, toxic half truths, intentional disinformation, racism and bigotry, and extreme political views that have no connection to reality and offer no workable solutions to the nation’s complex problems.  Slick sound-bite slogans push propaganda substitutes for verifiable facts.

How to understand how so many people can listen to such celebrities and not feel as nauseous as I and so many other Americans feel when listening to them?  Clearly we must accept the disturbing fact that there are many millions of suffering Americans that are mental midgets, a sign of the dumbing-down of America.  No surprise really when you remember there are millions of people wasting their money on gambling, lottery tickets, cons and scams, junk products and unhealthy foods, or unable to qualify for decent jobs because of a lack of knowledge and skills.  Either they were born stupid (a harsh but true statistical reality) or the many ups and downs of life have robbed them of any critical thinking ability to see through the idiocy that these purveyors of poison peddle while making obscene millions of dollars.

Consider recent Pew Center Research poll results that showed 18 percent of Republicans do not know that the Democrats control the House of Representatives and 35 percent do not know who the Vice President is.  Research has found Fox News butchers facts and its devotees are the most ignorant, and in recent years Republicans have overwhelmingly gone to Fox to get their news and information.  Note: 80 percent who regularly listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Sean Hannity are conservative.  I’m not saying that “No truth, just spin” should be the Fox motto, but it sure fits.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

The Ecuadorian Coup: Its Larger Meaning
by James Petras Ph.D.

The abortive military-police coup in Ecuador, which took place on September 30, has raised numerous questions about the role of the US and its allies among the traditional oligarchy and the leftist social movements, Indian organizations and their political parties.

While President Correa and all governments in Latin America, and significant sectors of the Ecuadorian public described the violent actions as a coup, the principle organ of Wall Street – The Wall Street Journal – described it as a “police protest”. Spoke persons for Goldman Sachs and the Council of Foreign Relations referred to the police and military power grab against the democratically elected government as a self-induced “political crises” of the President. While the coup was underway the “Indian” movement CONAIE, launched a manifesto condemning the government, while the “Indian” party Pachakutik supported the ouster of the President and backed the police coup as a “just act of public servants”.

In summary, the imperial backers of the coup , sectors of the Ecuadorian elite and Indian movement downplayed the violent police uprising as a coup in order to justify their support for it as just another “legitimate economic protest”. In other words, the victim of the elite coup was converted into the repressor of the peoples’ will. The factual question of whether their was a coup or not, is central to deciding whether the government was justified in repressing the police uprising and whether in fact the democratic system was endangered.

The Facts about the Coup

The police did not simply “protest” against economic polices, they seized the National Assembly and attempted to occupy public buildings and media outlets. The air force – or at least those sectors collaborating with the police – seized the airport in Quito, concerted actions seizing and blocked strategic transport networks.. President Correa was assaulted and seized and kept hostage under police guard by scores of heavily armed police, who violently resisted the Special Forces who eventually freed the president resulting in scores of wounded and ten deaths. Clearly the leaders of the police uprising had more in mind that a simple “protest” over cancelled bonuses – they sought to overthrow the president and were willing to use their firepower to carry it off. The initial economic demands of public sector employees were used by the coup leaders as a springboard to oust the regime.

The fact that the coup failed is, in part, a result of the President’s vigorous and dramatic appeal to the people to take to the streets to defend democracy - an appeal, which resonated with thousands of supporters and denied the coup makers public support in the streets.

The facts on the ground all point to a violent attempt by the police and sectors of the military to seize power and depose the president – by any definition a coup. And so it was immediately understood by all Latin American governments, from right to left, some of whom immediately closed their frontiers and threatened to break relations if the coup leaders succeeded. The only exception was Washington – whose first response was not to join in the condemnation but to wait and see what would be the outcome or as presidential spokesperson Philip Crowley announced “we are monitoring events”, referring to the uprising as a “protest” challenging the government. When Washington realized that the coup was actively opposed by the Ecuadorian public, all the Latin American governments, the bulk of the armed forces and doomed to failure, Secretary of State Clinton called Correa to announce US “backing” for his government, referring to the coup as merely an “interruption of the democratic order”.

In the run-up to the restoration of democracy, the trade unions were by and large passive observers, certainly no general strikes were discussed or even active mobilizations. The response of top military officials in the army were by and large opposed to the coup, except perhaps in the air force which seized the principle airport in Quito, before handing it over to anti-drug units of the police force. The anti narcotic police were in the forefront of the coup and not surprisingly were under intense US training and indoctrination for the past five years.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Gilad Atzmon: Lieberman and the Jewish Political Continuum
by Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon (Hebrew: גלעד עצמון‎, born June 9, 1963) is a jazz musician, author and anti-Zionist activist who was born in Israel and currently lives in London.
"Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist - which I am not - or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism... which I have."
He was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv, and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His service in the Israeli military convinced him Israel had become a militarized state controlled by religious extremists. In 1994, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, where he studied philosophy. Atzmon is an anti-Zionist who critiques Jewish identity issues and supports the Palestinian Right of Return as well as the establishment of a single state in Israel/Palestine. He is a signatory to the "Palestinians are the Priority Petition" which states “full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt.

Following Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman’s address at the UN last week, Aluf Benn wrote  in Haaretz:

“During the past few weeks, Netanyahu invested a great deal of effort in trying to convince the leaders of the world that he is serious about peace with the Palestinians. He asked them to ignore the resumption of settlement construction, and convinced Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to quit the negotiations.

Now comes Lieberman, Israel’s most senior diplomat, and tells all those leaders that… Netanyahu is faking. Even worse: the foreign minister is implying that Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is merely cover for the expulsion of Arab citizens.”

Netanyahu, Barak and many other Israelis are often  ‘outraged’ by  FM Lieberman. I guess that Israelis grasp that their senior diplomat  exposes the Israeli ploy: when Israelis talk peace -- what they really mean is war with no end.  When Israeli government spokesmen insist that Lieberman “misrepresents Israeli Government’s policies” -- what they really mean is that he fails to repeat the Israeli official lies.  As it stands, Lieberman’s UN speech few days ago, conveys not only Israeli cabinet vision, it is also a devastating glimpse into the Israeli mindset, worldview and spirit. Lieberman is a transparent image of the Israeli desire for racial and cultural homogeneity. Many Israelis claim to detest him and his ideas: but my guess is that they grasp that Lieberman is actually their true mirror. Otto Weininger wrote in “Sex & Character” that people hate in others that which they detest in themselves. Many Israelis ostensibly oppose Lieberman because he reminds them of the bigot whom they can’t stand in themselves. Some people do not like to look in the mirror; others are devastated when the mirror gazes back at them with pity.

“We, the Israelis are united”, Lieberman told the UN assembly , “now we have a stable coalition, stable government and we have the support of a majority of Israel's citizens.”  Lieberman is obviously correct: the Israelis are now more united than ever. In fact, there is no political opposition in Israel except from the Arab parties.  Yet, “we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel” Lieberman continued.

This says it all : unlike the rest of humanity who regard the concept of peace as a means towards reconciliation and harmony,  for Lieberman -- and in fact for  every Israeli politician I can think of --  the word ‘peace’ only translates as ‘security for the Jews’
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Avigdor Lieberman: A Profile in Ultranationalist Extremism
by Stephen Lendman

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lieberman represents the worst of Israel's lunatic fringe, sort of a combination Dick Cheney/John McCain/Joe Lieberman, too extremist to be entrusted with power, but he's got it. 

On March 18, 2008 in the London Independent, Robert Fisk headlined, "Why Avigdor Lieberman is the worst thing that could happen to the Middle East," saying:

"....Israelis have exalted a man....who out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon. A few Palestinians (said) the West will see the 'true face' of Israel. (He's) talked of drowning Palestinians in the Dead Sea or executing Israeli Palestinians who talked to Hamas. (His) incendiary language (promotes) executions....drownings....hell and loyalty oaths," perfect for the role he's assumed, allied with Israel's most extremist ever Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who also out-Sharons Sharon, no easy feat by any means.

On September 20, Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar headlined, "Freeze Lieberman," referring to his opposition to a settlement freeze, telling Israeli Radio that his party (Yisrael Beiteinu) has enough power to stop it and much more, including obstructing meaningful peace talks. 

Eldar's conclusion - "There is no excuse for Netanyahu to keep the man and his party" as part of his coalition government. He's an embarrassment, but for that matter, so is Netanyahu and Israel's most extremist ever Knesset, a topic earlier writing addressed.

On August 2, 2009, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, "Kahane won," referring to extremist Rabbi Meir Kanane and his racist Kach Party, banned by Israel in 1988 under a law passed to disqualify him and his zealots. Later in 1994, after the Cave of the Patriachs massacre (committed by Kach member Baruch Goldstein), it was the first Jewish organization in more than 40 years to be called a "threat to security" and outlawed.

Levy said he "can rest in peace." He's been resurrected. "His doctrine has won....Kahanism has become legitimate in public discourse....racism and nationalism (have been transformed) into accepted values."

If Kahane ran for office today, "not only would (he and others in his party) not be banned, (they'd) win many votes....the ostracized is now accepted, the detestable has become the talented - that's the slippery slope down which Israeli society has skidded over the past two decades."

In his youth, Lieberman was a Kach party member. He "was and is a Kahanist. The differences between Kach and Yisrael Beiteinu are miniscule, not fundamental and certainly not a matter of morality." 
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

US Threat to Attack Iran with Nukes is “Criminal”
by Sherwood Ross

The U.S. today is threatening to attack Iran “under the completely bogus pretext” that it might have a nuclear weapon, a distinguished American international legal authority says.

When Obama administration officials, like those of the Bush regime before it, say “all options are on the table,” they are threatening nuclear war and that is prohibited by international law, says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois at Champaign.

Not only has the International Atomic Energy Commission said this charge against Iran “is simply not true,” Boyle pointed out, but threatening Iran with nuclear war in itself constitutes an international crime.

“If we don't act now, Obama and his people could very well set off a Third World War over Iran that has already been threatened publicly by (President George W.) Bush Jr.,” he asserted.

In a speech on nuclear deterrence to the 18th conference on “Direct Democracy” in Feldkirch, Austria, Boyle said it has been estimated an attack on Iran with tactical nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Israel could kill nearly 3-million people.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

One Wall, Two People, No States: the Peace Pretense

by William A. Cook Ph.D.

“Our goal is two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” (President Obama) such is the illusion that resurfaces to restart the peace negotiations that will stabilize the mid-east. For 63 years that “goal” has been the carrot held before the people of the United States and Britain as the ultimate resolution for the Israeli/Palestinian crisis."

In reality there is nothing in the statement that is true.

The Israeli government, from its inception in May of 1948 to now, has never had as its “goal” two peoples in two states living in peace and security. Indeed, the opposite has been true: “What should be obvious now, after the carefully researched and scholarly work of Dr. Pappe (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine) and …Dr Morris (Righteous Victims), …complemented now with the materials preserved by Sir Richard C. Catling, is the truth about the creation of the State of Israel: the acceptance of UN Resolution 181 by the Jewish Agency Provisional Government as the designated Jewish State was not done with intent to abide by the goal of the UN General Assembly—to provide a state for two peoples in the land of Palestine—but rather to use it as a means to gain eventual control of all the land and cleanse that land of its indigenous people to whatever extent possible.” (The Plight of the Palestinians 6). In truth the Jewish Agency, from 1939 to the Declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, acted as a colonial power taking by force the land of the indigenous peoples and maintains that policy to the present day. Jeff Halper tracks over nineteen illusory “peace proposals” aborted by the Israeli government in his detailed article “The Problem with Israel” (11-23-2006 in The Plight of the Palestinians).

If the Israeli government never had as a “goal” peace with the indigenous people, the facts on the ground today clearly establish the consequences of the Israeli intent to eradicate the possibility of a Palestinian State. A cursory look at a map of what remains to the Palestinians now demonstrates the impossibility of a viable state.
 

Wed

06

Oct

2010

"Tyler Clementi's Suicide, Fifty Cents Worth of Illiterate Hate, and More Homophobia from the Christian Right."
by Mel Seesholtz Ph.D.

Both mainstream and alternative media (in the U.S. and Europe) covered the late September suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi.

FromABC News:

ABC’s Good Morning America reports that prosecutors in New Jersey are considering hate-crime charges for Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, the Rutgers University students who live-streamed the gay sexual encounter of fellow freshman Tyler Clementi, who later killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. …

GMA reports evidence on Twitter, where Ravi told his followers about having a gay roommate before school even started. He directed readers to a profile on JustUsBoys.com, where subsequently Clementi, posting under the handle “cit2mo,” appears to have complained about invasions of privacy via a video camera in his dorm room.

At a press conference Thursday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, an avowed opponent of marriage equality, said, “I don’t know how those two folks are going to sleep at night, knowing that they contributed to driving that young man to that alternative.”

FromMTV’s website:

Tyler Clementi's suicide, which was apparently triggered by the Rutgers University freshman's roommate allegedly posting a video of Clementi being intimate with another man online, has set off a national debate on the dangers of cyberbullying and the struggles of young gays and lesbians who are taunted by their peers. …

 
 

Wed

06

Oct

2010

No, Higher Consciousness Won’t Save Us
by Norman Solomon

Autumn 2010 is a time of disillusionment for many who deplore the USA’s current political trajectory. Some who’ve been active for progressive causes are now gravitating toward hope that individual actions -- in tandem with higher consciousness, more down-to-earth lifestyles and healthy cultural alternatives -- can succeed where social activism has failed. It’s an old story that is also new.

    From economic inequities to global warming to war, the nation’s power centers have repulsed those who recognize the urgency of confronting such crises head-on. High unemployment has become the new normal. Top officials in Washington have taken a dive on climate change. The warfare state is going great guns.

    When social movements seem to be no match for a destructive status quo, people are apt to look around for alternative strategies. One of the big ones involves pursuing individual transformations as keys to social change. Forty years ago, such an approach became all the rage -- boosted by a long essay that made a huge splash in The New Yorker magazine just before a longer version became a smash bestseller.

    The book was “The Greening of America,” by a Yale University Law School teacher named Charles Reich. In the early fall of 1970, it created a sensation. Today, let’s consider it as a distant mirror that reflects some similar present-day illusions.

    On the front cover of “The Greening of America,” big type proclaimed: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act.”

    That autumn, I was upbeat about Reich’s new book -- including its great enthusiasm for “the revolution of the new generation.” (Hey, that was me and my friends!)  The book condemned the war, denounced the overcapitalized Corporate State, panned the rigidity of schools, lauded the sensuality that marijuana was aiding, and dismissed as pathetically venal the liberalism that had driven the country to war in Vietnam.
 
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